Monday, August 30, 2010

Wine and Beer.... the retail story

One of the most difficult and confusing things to understand about our wonderful state of Texas are our liquor laws, wet and dry areas, semi-dry areas, Unicards. At best it is very difficult to understand. Having not been brought up in Texas it makes it even more difficult. After owning a wine bar/restaurant for 7+ years it is no less clear today than it was then.

Let me try and explain: My state beverage license allows me, at Mercy, to serve beer and wine. The State license allows you to come in, buy a bottle of wine and drink it on premise or to take it home unopened, however, my city license does not. Currently the Town of Addison only allows a select number of liquor stores (Inwood Ave) to sell liquor, beer and wine for off premise consumption.

The city council, in their wisdom, undertook a 6 month project to look at this ordinance to see if it was time to amend it or change it. It set up a subcommittee to make a recommendation to the council. I had the pleasure to speak to the subcommittee as well as directly to the city council on several occasions on behalf of changing the ordinance to allow beer and wine to be sold elsewhere beside those retailers on Inwood. This past week the city council wisely voted to allow the question to go before the voters in November. This same issue is on the ballot for Dallas.

My argument to the city council was that we at Mercy bring in wines that are difficult to find at retail. Trying to differentiate ourselves and bring a unique experience to our guests. We bring these wines to our guests and develop the demand then we are compelled to send our guest to a retailer if they wish to purchase a bottle to take home. Most often the retailer is located outside of the Town of Addision.

Mercy looses revenue for wine selections that we have generated the demand for and the community looses tax revenue. It is my belief that this is a convenience that every citizen should have if they so choose.

There has been a great deal of fear mongering surrounding this issue. The opposition continues to talk about the increase in crime in the area should this happen. One doesn’t have to look very far outside our own back yard to see that this is just not the case. Many surrounding towns allow for this and people are not shooting each other in the streets because they can buy a bottle of wine in their local grocery store. Those towns that have allowed this are also seeing improved economic development and growth in their communities.

When this comes up for a public vote in November, we urge you to please consider voting for the change in this local ordinance, opening up the sale of beer and wine to retail establishments throughout the city. We encourage everyone to drink responsibly.

Glen Agritelley

Monday, August 23, 2010

Vegas and their new City Center

Freshly back from my annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas. This year was special, 6 nights in “fun city”! I combined some work and some play this time. I spent 2 full days at the largest men’s clothing show in the world for Sebastian’s Closet and 4 days with my boys for pure fun.

I was determined to explore the new City Center complex this year. After many years of it being built and many ownership changes, this complex will help redefine Vegas and set a new standard for the future. It is truly an amazing site. Ultra modern, airy, high ceilings; one has the complete feeling of openness and space. Shopping is all high end as you would expect from such a gorgeous place. You might expect room rates to be through the roof, remember this is 2010, after the crash and Vegas is still reeling from the economic downturn. Room rates are very affordable. I’d highly recommend staying there as soon as you can, because I can only imagine that rates have to go up as the economy improves. Someone has to pay for this complex. My understanding is that City Center has its own zip code in Las Vegas. There is literally no reason to leave the complex once you are there!

After Wine Spectator’s rave review of the new Spanish restaurant, Julian Serrano’s, it was a must stop for me. Julian came from the famed Picasso’s, which a few short years ago was only 1 of 2 five star restaurants in Las Vegas. Julian’s pedigree is very impressive and he does not disappoint in his new venture. Serrano’s specializes in tapas and paella. We tried 5 or 6 different tapas and everyone was better than the last. Most impressive was Julian’s wine list. Three pages of Spanish wines and it held the largest selection of Spanish wines from the Del Duero region of Spain that I have ever seen in the US.

Six days in Vegas is a long time and one gets the sense that while there seem to be huge numbers of people everywhere, Vegas is still feeling the pinch of the economy. Key indicators for me were that I had no problem getting into any restaurant I wanted to in 6 nights without a reservation. Any show was available any night I wanted. The hotels are offering incredible deals. Every cab driver I spoke with gave me the universal answer, yes, things are picking up but very slowly. Take advantage of all Las Vegas has to offer. It is a great value right now in all price ranges!

Glen Agritelley

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Change is a necessary part of life

Building a successful restaurant and wine bar require many different facets. The decor, the wine selections, the physical location are all important factors. At Mercy, I have always maintained that it is our staff that have really contributed the most and been the real building blocks of our success.

Recruiting, hiring, training, team building, nurturing and supervision are important components of the staffing process. As managers, we are responsible to support our staff, work as a team with the other managers to ultimately deliver a great guest experience to all that visit Mercy.

The last two years have brought to us a variety of new experiences with changes taking place in the economy, the environment and the political and technological landscapes. Change is a necessary part of life. Mercy has evolved and changed throughout our existence; food menu and wine offerings, decor and staffing evolutions.

Craig Brazeal, our bar manager, has been a valued working partner to his fellow managers these past two years, a supportive mentor to our staff and a welcome presence behind the bar to many of our guests. Change is necessary and so when new opportunities open, new experiences unfold, we have to adapt and embrace. Craig has accepted a new opportunity which will chart new experiences for him in a different city. He will be serving out his remaining three weeks at Mercy and while we are sorry to see him leave, we welcome the opportunity it will provide to him in his professional life.

Please stop in to visit Craig and all of as at Mercy over the coming few weeks. Take a moment to say hi and wish Craig the best, as we do, in his future endeavors.

Mike Castagne
Operations Manager

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Bordeaux sleeper

Wines from Saint-Émilion or from the right bank, Lalande-de-Pomerol, are often selected for those that would like to experience a Bordeaux wine. These two appellations use a majority Cabernet Franc or Merlot for a lighter varietal for the beginners palet.

These two appellations can also be expensive in some cases. However, you can find some great Bordeaux selections that are affordable and also ready to drink.

One new addition at Mercy is Chateau Le Conseiller 2008 Bordeaux Superior. This wine is young but very smooth with a 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc blend. It is made by Jean-Philippe Janoueix, Le Conseiller and is consistently a top effort from this humble appellation. This is a big-time sleeper of this vintage with its dense purple color, aromas of roasted coffee, blackberry liqueur, charcoal and smoke. It is dense, chewy, and rich, with sweet tannins and ripe fruit.

You can enjoy Chateau Le Conseiller 2008 at Mercy for $ 20 by the glass or $ 60 by the bottle.

Vincent Havard
General Manager and Operating Partner